Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Monday, October 15, 2012

LHRIC Teams Up with NYSCATE to Host First Mobile Learning Summit

The much-anticipated Mobile Learning Summit held last month at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor was well received by many of the region's school district administrators, teachers and college faculty who are eager to implement the proper policies and support structures that will enable mobile learning to flourish in their schools.

The all-day event, co-sponsored by the LHRIC and NYSCATE, served as an opportunity for the K-20 education community to discuss, learn and share best practices in this growing area of technology, a niche that is quickly changing the face of education nationwide.

In his keynote presentation, "Designing Mobile Learning: Personal, Portable & Engaging," Richard Culatta, deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, talked about the need for cautiousness and planning when creating a mobile learning plan for students. He also described the opportunities for enhanced teaching and learning as a result of it.

"It's extremely important to think it through," urged Mr. Culatta, who has worked in the K-12 community, higher education, corporate and government training environments as well as private consulting. "If you can't answer the question, 'why are we doing this?' then I think it's time to stop and think about what we're doing with mobile learning devices."

Some, said Mr. Culatta, believe mobile learning is all about switching to electronic textbooks. The reality is that schools need fewer textbooks and more mobile learning technologies. In fact, they are "way better" than the classroom learning that has prevailed for hundreds of years, he noted.

Mr. Culatta suggested that today's schools have a good chance at getting the mobile learning revolution right. "When we transition to mobile, we need to step back and redesign for that environment, and when we do that, phenomenal things happen."

To make this a reality, however, he suggested that schools capitalize on mobile learning's ability to engage students and to realize the advantages it offers because of its portable nature and its focus on personal learning.

Some strategies to follow include:

  • having learners interact with experts in the form of real-time feedback
  • allowing them to collaborate with peers, therefore instilling competitiveness in the learning process
  • offering interesting content for them to learn from
  • initiating a form of personal learning that means adapting to students' individual learning styles, offering differentiated instruction and leveraging their interests and experiences.
As these strategies develop, Mr. Culatta said schools will gather more tools that will help them enhance the kind of personalized learning that is needed in today's classrooms. Citing the Detroit Schools and the New York-based School of One as good examples, Mr. Culatta said those students are learning at their own pace and participating in projects designed around their interests and needs.

"As this happens in more schools nationwide, it will become easier to do the right things in teaching and learning," he added.

In the second keynote of the day, Travis Allen, president and CEO of iSchool Initiative, talked about his own experiences as a mobile learner. In his presentation, "Becoming a Mobile Learner," Mr. Allen described his foray into technology after getting an iPhone a couple of years ago. "I, like many others, enjoyed the endless list of applications on it and shortly after, I began looking into educational apps to help me in high school. I soon realized the amazing capabilities this device would have in education."

Mr. Allen, 21, wanted every student to realize the unlocked potential of the iPhone and shared his opinion on the topic by producing a video, titled "iSchool Initiative." The company is a student led non-profit dedicated to revolutionizing the nation's education system through innovative technology.

Participants also had the chance to explore a number of breakout sessions that took place throughout the morning and afternoon. They included information sessions on the use of mobile devices in the interactive classroom; the implementation of iPads for administrators, teachers and students; a step-by-step guide for administrators and instructors on how to use the iPad; using the Barnes and Noble Nook reader as a learning tool in the classroom; the advantages of using Prezi, a free software for educators and students; recording, composing and learning about music with iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod, and much more.

A number of educational technology companies that partner with the RIC and with local school districts were also available to showcase their latest products and services.

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